A tubal ligation reversal is an operation to restore fertility to a woman by putting back together fallopian tubes that have been previously blocked or cut as part of a tubal ligation to prevent pregnancy.
During the procedure, the blocked segments of the fallopian tubes are reconnected to the remainder of the fallopian tubes. This may allow eggs to again move through the tubes and sperm to travel up the fallopian tubes to join an egg.
A tubal ligation reversal isn’t appropriate for everyone. Your health care provider will consider several factors to determine if tubal ligation reversal is likely to be successful, such as:
Your age and body mass index
The type of tubal ligation
The extent of the damage to your fallopian tubes
Remaining tubal length
Other fertility factors, such as sperm and egg quality
A tubal ligation reversal is more likely to be successful if there is still a large proportion of healthy tube. Patients who have undergone sterilization procedures that cause the least amount of damage to fallopian tubes such as sterilization with tubal clips or rings have a greater chance of the procedure being successful than patients whose fallopian tubes were burned in order to close them off (electrocautery). Some types of sterilization, such as the Essure system, are not considered reversible.
What Are the Risks?
Even when a patient’s Tubal Ligation Reversal is successful achieving pregnancy is not guaranteed. If there are no other fertility issues, this procedure is generally associated with a high success rate of 60-90% pregnancy within one year, depending on a woman’s age and other factors.
Tubal Ligation Reversal is abdominal surgery, which always carries a risk of infection, bleeding and injury to nearby organs, as well as risks related to anesthesia.
If you do conceive after having a tubal ligation reversal, there’s a chance that the pregnancy will be ectopic — when the fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, usually in a fallopian tube.
About the Procedure
A tubal ligation reversal can be done as an inpatient or outpatient procedure.
To do a Tubal Ligation Reversal, your doctor will make a small incision in your abdomen (minilaparotomy) and expose your uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. The doctor will remove blocked fragments of the fallopian tube and attempt to repair the tube with tiny absorbable stitches. Your doctor may not be able to reattach one or both of your fallopian tubes if too much was removed during the tubal ligation.
The surgery takes about 2 – 3 hours.
What to Expect after your Tubal Ligation Reversal
You should avoid taking aspirin for pain relief after the procedure, since it may promote bleeding. You may bathe 48 hours after the procedure, but avoid straining or rubbing the incision for one week. Carefully dry the incision after bathing by patting it with a towel.
Avoid strenuous lifting and sex for two weeks. Resume your normal activities gradually as you begin to feel better. Your stitches will dissolve and won’t require removal.
Make an appointment to see your health care provider a week or so after surgery so he or she can make sure you’re healing properly.